My head hurt. My shoulders ached. Coronasomnia (my sleepless nights before and after my bout with COVID) had resurfaced. This is how I knew that I was spending too much time in my head, on my thoughts. Too much doing. When the world shut down last March, my first thought was, “How can I be of service?” I kicked into high gear, throwing myself wholeheartedly into my work. That’s what I’ve always done in the face of adversity or uncertainty. It’s my go-to. Do more. Do it now.

I recently shared in a professional setting that someone could earn a “gold star” with me if they see me, and then I realized that I am not always so forthcoming in allowing myself to be seen. For someone who coaches others about the importance of being in touch with oneself, I felt incredibly out of touch with myself. I was so focused on doing that I was neglecting just being. Listening. Stopping. Breathing. Being. Opening my heart to people and possibilities.

It felt like the chasm between my head and heart was widening, and the more I “thought” about it, the more the two slid away from each other. What could I do?

“When we feel overwhelmed, it may not be because the situation is inherently overwhelming. It may be because we are overcomplicating something in our own heads.”
-Greg McKeown, Effortless

After reading Adam Grant’s Think Again and having human interactions that made me question the way that I was showing up, I realized that simply noticing the struggle between my head and my heart allowed me to rethink what I saw as my unwillingness to be vulnerable. Perhaps it’s time to practice what I preach.

“Revealing struggles shows humility and humanity,
opening the door to new sources of support and strength.

-Adam Grant

Intimacy (“Into-me-see”) happens when we allow someone to see who we are: what we struggle with, what we fear, and into our dreams, hopes, and desires. Genuine intimacy is a two-way street — it’s when we allow others to connect with our heart and we with theirs. Letting ourselves be seen is risky and requires great trust, humility, and vulnerability.

I am still working towards true vulnerability, but taking a moment to first notice and then step away from the pressure of being in my head has reconnected me with my heart. I know I’ve chosen my career wisely, because getting involved in philanthropy (“love of humanity”) takes a powerful combination of head and heart, a willingness to show both humility and vulnerability, to learn and unlearn, think and rethink, and open your heart to connect with yourself, your family and your community.

What I’m Learning: Conversations with Adam Grant & Brené Brown
This past week, Adam Grant and Brené Brown had a series of inspiring conversations on their respective podcasts. On Dare to Lead, Brené got into the nitty gritty of what it means to rethink our opinions, beliefs, and assumptions. “Rethinking isn’t for the faint of heart.” On Adam’s Work/Life podcast, he and Brené had a candid conversation about the biggest barriers facing our ability to be vulnerable. Our goals as knowledge seekers should be centered around “stretching and learning,” Brené says, “instead of proving and perfecting.”

Vulnerability is difficult to embrace — we are taught to steel ourselves against weakness, shame, and the possibility of failure or not knowing. What if we rethought this definition: what if we interpreted vulnerability as courage — the courage to wholeheartedly tell our stories, the courage to be imperfect and keep going anyway?

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.”
-Brené Brown

Click here to read more about my effort to know and connect with my own values.

Your vulnerability is so damn powerful. Vulnerability is the antithesis of hierarchy.

What I’m Understanding: The Trust Equation
The Trust Equation clearly articulates what is required for measuring and quantifying trust. Credibility and reliability are second nature to me. It’s who I am and how I operate. Building trust, however, also requires intimacy skills. Vulnerability and humility, both elements of intimacy, add to the measure of trustworthiness. You can lower your self-orientation, and increase your ability to be trusted, when you truly listen to another.

Deepening levels of vulnerability requires an inward exploration of your self, your values and in real time in your relationship with others. It takes courage and, at times, can be truly uncomfortable. I continue to encounter the challenge of showing myself, and it reminds me that, as I guide my clients through meaningful conversations and in the strengthening of important relationships, that I too have my own work to do.

I show up, but am I willing to be seen?


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